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Joint Statement Republic of Philippine-Peoples Republic of China Consultations on the South China Sea and on Other Areas of Cooperation

9-10 August 1995

Delegations from the Philippines and China met in Manila on 9-10 August 1995 for consideration on the South China Sea and on other areas of cooperation.

The consultations were held in an atmosphere of cordiality and in a frank and constructive manner.

The two sides reiterated the importance they attach to their bilateral relations. They recognize that the continued prosperity of their economies depends upon the peace and stability of the region. They reaffirmed their commitment to regional peace, stability, and cooperation. Frank discussions on Mischief Reef (Meiji Reef) were held. The two sides expressed their respective positions on the matter. They agreed to hold further consultations in order to resolve their differences. On the South China Sea issues as a whole, they exchanged views on the legal and historical bases of their respective positions.

Pending the resolution of the dispute, the two sides agreed to abide by the following principles for a code of conduct in the area:

1. Territorial disputes between the two sides should not affect the normal development of their relations. Disputes shall be settled in a peaceful and friendly manner though consultations on the basis of equality and mutual respect. 2. Efforts must be undertaken to build confidence and trust between the two parties, to enhance an atmosphere of peace and stability in the region, and to refrain from using force or threat of force to resolve disputes. 3. In the spirit of expanding common ground and narrowing differences, a gradual and progressive process of cooperation shall be adopted with a view to eventually negotiating a settlement of the bilateral disputes.

4. The two sides agree to settle their bilateral disputes in accordance with the recognized principles of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. 5. Both sides shall keep an open-minded attitude on the constructive initiatives and proposal of regional states to pursue multilateral cooperation in the South China Sea at the appropriate time. 6. The two sides agree to promote cooperation in fields such as protection of the marine environment, safety of navigation, prevention of piracy, marine scientific research, disaster mitigation and control, search and rescue operations, meteorology, and maritime pollution control. They also agree that on some of the abovementioned issues, multilateral cooperation could eventually be conducted. 7. All parties concerned shall cooperate in the protection and conservation of the marine resources of the South China Sea. 8. Disputes shall be settled by the countries directly concerned without prejudice to the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

In order to push the process forward, the two sides agreed to hold discussions among experts on legal issues and sustainable economic cooperation in the South China Sea. They agreed further that experts from the two countries shall hold consultations at a mutually acceptable date in order to explore the possibilities of fisheries cooperation in the disputed area.

The two sides agreed on the importance of bilateral cooperative activities as useful in and of themselves, and as confidence building measures. They are dedicated to a pragmatic approach to cooperation.

In addition to the South China Sea issue, the two sides reviewed other fields of bilateral cooperation. They emphasized the usefulness of exchanging contact at various levels in strengthening cooperation. They noted the successful conclusion of the 18th Philippines China Joint Trade Committee Meeting. They looked forward to conducting negotiations on the

avoidance of double taxation and fiscal evasion. They noted the ratification by the Philippine side of the Bilateral Agreement on the Promotion and Mutual Protection of Investments.

The talks ended with both sides satisfied that some progress had been made in terms of substantially improving the atmosphere of relations and identifying and expanding areas of agreement by holding frank exchanges directly addressing contentious issues. They pledged to continue consultations in the same constructive spirit.